Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once stated that “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Basically this is a nice way of saying that if you don’t have a plan to follow through on your goals, you are wasting your time.
This was never truer than in the case of using social media for business. I cannot tell you how many people have shared with me that they have spent a huge amount of time and/or money using social media for their business and have seen little to no return. They are completely disillusioned with social media and many think it was a complete waste of their time and money.
The truth is, in most cases they were absolutely right!
This doesn’t mean that social media can’t be one of the best tools that you have at your disposal to reach out to your potential prospects or customers and turn them into brand advocates or customers. Because it is.
But you can’t just jump into social media without a plan or you will just be wasting your time. I am going to share with you 7 steps to create a social media strategy that will provide you with real and measurable results.
1. Understand Who Your Ideal Clients Are
The very first thing you need to do when creating your social media strategy is to know exactly who your ideal clients are. You can’t plan an effective strategy without being crystal clear about exactly who you are marketing to.
So it is extremely important that you first determine who you want to market to. There are a number of questions you will want to answer:
- Who is your ideal client?
- What is the common language of his or her business, industry, or organization?
- What kinds of challenges does he or she face?
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to use your industry jargon rather than the language used by your clients when they are discussing their needs or problems. It is essential that you do your homework and address those needs and speak the language that your ideal clients use. By doing this you will ensure that your message on social media will resonate with them.
2. Create Clear Goals & Objectives
Next you need to decide what specific goals and objectives you have for using social media in your business. You also need to be realistic as to whether what you would like to happen can actually be achieved. When determining your goals and objectives ask yourself these questions:
- Are you planning to find and connect with potential prospects?
- Do you want to nurture new and existing relationships?
- Would you like to enhance your visibility and credibility to be seen as an authority on your topic?
- Do you have a sales team that you would like to incorporate a social selling strategy with to reach more leads, prospects and clients?
Perhaps it is a combination of all of these things. Your goals will play a large role in the selection of social media platforms that you choose to use and how you choose to use each one.
When writing out your goals, be as specific as possible. This means setting actual numerical targets and dates. These are important later on when you are tracking your results and determining your ROI (return on investment).
3. Choose the Right Social Media Platforms
Which social media platforms do your prospects spend most of their time on? Blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram or You Tube? There is no point in spending your time or money on a social media platform that is not regularly used by your ideal clients or one that makes it hard for you to reach them and connect with them.
Once you know which platforms they use most, you need to combine this information with your goals and objectives and decide which of the platforms will be the most effective.
For example, if you want to connect and build relationship with executive level professionals, LinkedIn would be your best choice. But if you are a restaurateur and want develop a local following, you want a platform which will allow you to share content in a fun and engaging way with people in your area. A platform such as Twitter or Facebook might be the best choice as you can focus your efforts locally.
4. Have A Professional Presence
Once you have decided which social media platform(s) will be of most use to you, you will want to create a professional, uniformly branded presence on each of them, which should look similar to your website.
Uniform branding across all of your social media sites not only looks more professional but also helps your prospects or ideal clients to easily identify you from one platform to another.
5. Create A Daily Plan
Having a daily plan or checklist to follow is absolutely essentially for your success. It will keep you on track and help to ensure that you complete the most essential social media activities that need to be done each day, in an efficient manner.
Your checklist must include each of the social media platforms that you participate on and the activities that are to be completed under each platform. The focus of your strategy should be to do the highest leveraging activities that add value to your target audience, connect you with your ideal clients and build relationships with them. Make sure you are specific.
On LinkedIn under your daily activities for example, you might include “Connect with 5 new people/prospects”. This activity is specific, actionable and measurable. An example of a daily task on Facebook might look like “Reply and/or engage with all comments or questions from your daily posts”. Again, this clearly lays out what is to be accomplished.
Along with your checklist, depending on your goals and the platforms you choose to use, you should also create a monthly content calendar. A content calendar will help you plan out what kind of content you will create or curate to post on the different social media platforms as well as your blog. It is also helpful and a big timesaver to create message scripts for those platforms that you receive or send a lot of messages on that you can use as a template. While message scripts should always be personalized with a name and other relevant info, they can help you to streamline the process and save time.
6. Measure and Refine
Using the goals you set and tracking the results of your daily plan, you will be able to see what kind of ROI your social media efforts are producing. It is important to review your efforts and results every couple of months. You should be able to answer questions such as these:
- Is your network or audience growing?
- Are they engaging with you?
- What are they saying?
- Has my market shared a need with me that I could fulfill but am not currently?
- Is your sales funnel converting?
- If not, where am I losing them?
- Are there activities that are not producing results?
Once you have answers to questions such as those above, you will need to use those answers to improve your daily plan and/or modify your goals as necessary. You do not want to keep activities which are not producing results nor do you want to ignore a possible activity or avenue that you had not previously thought of, but that has been identified by your market.
7. Take It Offline
A good social media strategy will not only save you from wasting time and money but it will also improve your lead generation efforts by creating and building relationships with your ideal clients. My final piece of advice for a successful social media strategy is to take the relationship offline whenever possible. For many businesses sales don’t happen online, especially on social media, unless you are selling a low cost item or online item (such as a book or online course). If you are a B2B company or professional your goal is to move the relationship forward to an offline conversation via phone, Skype or an in person meeting.
Now it’s your turn. What have you found to be some of the highest leveraging activities in your social media strategy? Please leave your comments and questions below.